For many, Camp Fusion looks like a small slice of heaven, with youth from all different cultures gathering to worship the Lord together. Since 2010, the camp has been serving students from Texas Baptists’ 320 intercultural churches. Camp Fusion is aimed at connecting second-generation students to each other and helping them grow spiritually at this crucial time in their faith journey.
“These are churches from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. And the next generation that are born here are very unique. They’re living between two worlds - their parents' world and then their American world,” Mark Heavener, director of Intercultural Ministries, said.
This year, the camp saw 381 middle and high school students and leaders from 26 churches and 15 different cultures attend. Twelve students made the decision to follow Christ for the first time, and 66 recommitted themselves to Jesus. Students also made commitments to help lead their youth groups, invite a friend to Bible study and be involved in cross-cultural missions. Fifty-six students said they felt a calling to full-time Christian service.
Isaiah (Zay) Landing, from African Evangelical Baptist Church in Grand Prairie, was excited to go to his first Camp Fusion in 2015 to take part in the activities and games past campers had described to him. He begged his parents to let him go. Now, six years later, he loves the opportunity it provides to dive deeper into his relationship with Christ and the unique community he has built with friends from all different cultures and backgrounds
“In the past years, I’ve gone just because I get to have fun and get away from home, but now it’s really about finding that encounter with God, that personal spiritual encounter,” he said. “My favorite part about camp is bonding with everybody, bonding with people I’ve never met.”
Healthier lives and communities through diversity
Though the campers are from many different cultures and backgrounds, their shared experience as children of immigrants or of being immigrants themselves is a strong bond. Workshops throughout the camp focus on this theme, helping the students navigate their identities and embrace both their parents’ culture and an American one.
One workshop was led by a mother, who was a first-generation immigrant mother, and her daughter, who was raised in America. They spoke to campers about the cultural differences they faced and how they overcame them. For many campers who are in a similar situation, workshops like these provide valuable insights into building a healthy life.
Another workshop explored finding one’s identity through culture and through Christ. The instructor, Silvia Ipaye, explained that all cultures are equal, and God created each of them as a unique aspect of the world He created. Above all, Ipaye reminded the students that their identity first comes from Christ.
“Hold onto your diverse background, but use it to better your new community,” she urged the campers. “God has given us different gifts and backgrounds.”
Growing the next generation of leaders
Campers are also encouraged to grow as leaders during their time at Camp Fusion. After high school, many stay on as counselors or join the leadership team.
Rebecca Nguyen from Vietnamese Baptist Church of Garland attended Camp Fusion while she was in high school. After graduation, she began serving as a church sponsor and on the recreation team. In 2010, she began running registration and serving on the planning team.
“Camp made such a huge impact on my life, and that’s why I now spend my time getting the kids to a place where they can have the same experience I had,” Nguyen said. “This is such a special place because we’re able to develop leaders through the local churches and lead them as they grow, first as campers, then as counselors and leaders.”
Temi Adegbile, another student from African Evangelical Baptist Church, spent her third summer at Camp Fusion this year. She is most grateful for the opportunities and encouragement it has given her to grow into a leader in her church and community.
“It’s helped me with my leadership growth, and being a part of the BGCT [has given] me all these opportunities I’ve never had before,” she said.
Adegbile’s favorite part about Camp Fusion, however, will always be the chance to spend time praising and listening to God.
“Camp Fusion is the place to be when you want spiritual refreshment,” Adegbile said.
Landing agreed. “It’s the best church camp in town! And the people here are the best people I’ve ever met.”
To learn more about and support the work Intercultural Ministries is doing through Camp Fusion and its other ministries, go to txb.org/intercultural.